Summary: The Word of God has supernatural power to change lives.
This is the sixth message in the series from 1 Thessalonians. The series is entitled, “Finding Hope in a Hopeless World.” In this message we’re going to study “The Life-changing Power of the Word of God.”
A lot of people are confused about what the Bible teaches. Here are some humorous answers to a Bible quiz given to middle school students.
1. Noah’s wife was Joan of Ark.
2. Moses went to the top of Mt. Cyanide to get the 10 Commandments.
3. The seventh commanded is, “Thou shalt not admit adultery.”
4. Joshua fought the battle of Geritol.
5. The followers of Jesus were called the 12 decibels.
6. David killed Galahad, who was one of the Finkelsteins.
7. A Christian should have only one wife. This is called monotony.
The Apostle Paul had preached only three weeks in Thessalonica before he was run out of town by an angry mob. But he left behind a group of believers who formed a church. He wrote them this letter to encourage them in the face of opposition.
1 Thessalonians 2:13-16. “And we also thank God continually because, when you received the word of God, which you heard from us, you accepted it not as the word of men, but as it actually is, the word of God, which is at work in you who believe. For you, brothers, became imitators of God’s churches in Judea, which are in Christ Jesus: You suffered from your own countrymen the same things those churches suffered from the Jews, who killed the Lord Jesus and the prophets and also drove us out. They displease God and are hostile to all men in their effort to keep us from speaking to the Gentiles so that they may be saved. In this way they always heap up their sins to the limit. The wrath of God has come upon them at last.”
A. J. Jacobs is a journalist from New York City who subjects himself to real life experiments and then writes a humorous book about it. For instance he once spent a year reading every volume of the Encyclopedia Britannica.
In 2007 he wrote a book entitled, The Year of Living Biblically: One Man’s Humble Quest to Follow the Bible as Literally as Possible. There’s an obscure rule in Leviticus 19 about Jewish men not cutting the corners of their beards. Jacobs wasn’t sure what were the corners of his beard, so he just didn’t shave at all.
Jacobs isn’t a Christian, his parents are Jewish, but he claims to be an agnostic. For this project he bought a Bible and read it in four weeks and wrote down every rule he could find, and tried to obey it. He had a list of over 700 rules. The vast majority of these rules were the kosher rules found in Leviticus.
He stopped wearing clothes of mixed fabrics. He played a ten-stringed harp and blew a shophar at the first of every month. He refused to shake hands with women, because they might be ceremonially unclean.
A man saw him in Central Park and asked him what he was doing. When he explained, the man asked Jacobs if there was a rule he hadn’t obeyed. Jacobs pulled some pebbles out of his pocket and said he hadn’t had an opportunity to stone someone who had committed adultery. The man admitted that he had committed that sin, so Jacobs said, “Great!” But before he could throw the pebbles at the man, the man grabbed the pebbles from his hand and threw them at Jacobs. Jacobs said, “An eye for an eye.” So he threw the pebbles back at the man.
Of course, Jacobs conducted this experiment to write a funny book, and he accomplished that goal. He said reading the Bible didn’t cause him to believe in God, but it did change him from an agnostic to what he called a reverent agnostic. He reported that he found something very powerful in sacred rituals. For instance, he was a workaholic, but for a year he had to refrain from any work on the Sabbath. He reported that it remarkably lowered his stress level.
Of course, his experiment was flawed from the beginning because he didn’t understand that the Bible isn’t a book of rules. It’s a love letter from God. If you only read it looking for rules, then that’s what you’ll find. But if you read the Bible searching for God, you’ll find Him also.
Jacobs missed the point of the Bible because scriptures says, “The man without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him.” (1 Corinthians 2:14)
But Jacob’s experiment reveals what many modern people think about the Bible. They think of it as an ancient, archaic book of impossible-to-keep rules. But for those of us who know God and love God, we know that this book is more up-to-date than tomorrow’s newspaper.